Last week, it was reported that a Bitcoin whale had moved thousands of bitcoin into different wallet addresses. Between December 1 to December 6, 2018, the whale split 856,000 bitcoin between 107 wallets, sending an equal 8,000 BTC into each wallet.
Speculators have formulated different hypotheses since the monstrous sum was moved. Was it a market whale moving funds to Over-the-Counter (OTC) markets? Could the sender be the Foundation for Economic Education (Fee.org)? (This second theory is highly improbable as the listed address on the organization’s website reveals it has only ever received a total of 2.2 BTC.)
According to a report published on 8BTC, it’s likely the “whale” was merely Coinbase conducting routine maintenance on its infrastructure. 8BTC’s hypothesis is based on a Coinbase announcement that mentioned the exchange was going to make “monitored movements” two days prior to the transactions being made.
U.S digital asset platform Coinbase had announced a scheduled maintenance on November 29, 2018.
“Over the next seven days, Coinbase will be running scheduled maintenance across our platform that may cause movements on all Coinbase-supported blockchains. These are controlled, closely monitored movements that are being performed in order to provide enhanced security and protection for our customers.”
The commotion surrounding these coin movements began on December 4, 2018, when 66,452 BTC was transferred from a wallet address that had not sent funds since 2014. The funds were then distributed evenly across 100 wallet addresses.
Once that transfer was complete, a new transaction of 66,379 BTC was transferred from another whale address and distributed equally between 101 wallet addresses. A few days after this, another transaction was initiated, followed by another round of distributing the bitcoin into different wallet addresses. This time, 8,000 BTC was transferred into 107 addresses for a total of 856,000 BTC: a total that accounts for over 5 percent of the total bitcoins in circulation.
The report also suggests that the exchange might have used the SegWit “bc1” addresses to chop off the transactional costs while splitting the funds, which is a standard security protocol used to hedge risk and protect funds from a single point of failure.
Large sums of ether, ripple and bitcoin cash (BCH) have been moved in the last 30 days, as well, though there is no indication thus far that these transfers are related. In one instance, a day before BCH hard forked on December 5, 2018, a wallet address transferred over 1 million BCH ($300 million) to another address. Six days ago, 100,271 BCH, worth over $14 million, was moved.